Posts Tagged ‘mediocrity’

There are a large number of people who believe that Manitoba is weathering the “economic storm” better than other provinces because of Gary Doer.  I’m sure you can guess that I don’t agree with that idea.  While Federal transfer payments ($2.063 billion for 08/09) have certainly paid for government projects that are employing thousands of Manitobans, our current economic situation is lacklustre compared to what it could be.

Manitoba’s stability is based on having a diversified economy that includes a mix of agriculture, resources, manufacturing and services.  While a general economic downturn affects Manitoba, is doesn’t affect our province as quickly or as severely as other provinces because we don’t have an economy tied heavily to one sector.  This diversity has always been Manitoba’s strength, but it’s a strength that has been underused.

There are several important steps that need to be taken to strengthen our economy:

  1. Increase funding for Research and Development: with R&D spending that is among the lowest in Canada, our province’s high tech industries are not being properly nurtured.
  2. Phase out the Payroll Tax: not only is this a tax on growth, it also results in lower wages for Manitobans compared to other provinces.
  3. Invest more in Infrastructure: After forty years of underfunding, Manitoba’s infrastructure (including roads, bridges, water and waste) has been in crisis for years.  The talk nowadays is for improvements in infrastructure around CentrePort, but this plan fails to account for other serious shortfalls in infrastructure renewal.
  4. Reduce Personal Income Taxes: Personal income taxes have a bigger impact on regional growth differences than corporate income taxes.
  5. Organize a Small and Medium-Sized Business Fund: Sound businesses that create jobs and enhance our economic diversity should be given access to start-up, expansion, and research grants.
  6. Create a Culture of Energy Innovation at Manitoba Hydro: there is not enough work being done to use other renewables such as wind, geothermal, and biofuel from waste products.  Energy R&D in Alberta and British Columbia are preparing those provinces to lead energy sectors in the reconomy, while Manitoba’s alternative energy programs are faltering.

Manitoba should not be a have-not province.  British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan are all have provinces.  Out of all four Western provinces, Manitoba has the best energy prospects and economic diversification.  We also have a cultural dynamic that welcomes immigrants, and we have a hard-working and young population ready to continue our economic development.  With all of these assets, there is no excuse for Manitoba not moving towards becoming a have province.

We need a change in our legislature to move the good ideas forward.  We need more independent voices to offer opinions that aren’t part of the tired NDP and Tory playbooks.

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I’ve spent quite a bit of time lately focused on issues occurring in Winnipeg proper, and I’ll be doing more of that soon (more on Plan Winnipeg II, for instance).  But obviously as a candidate for the legislature, I am also engaged in the issues that affect or are due to our provincial government.

It’s harder to write about the problems of our province, mostly because the Doer government is quite adept at spin, whereas our mayor has often had problems with how he is perceived by the general public and the media.  (Translation: Mayor Katz is an easier target.)  But the disagreements that I’ve had with the mayor about Winnipeg’s future are minor compared to the problems I have with the Doer government.

There have been serious errors by the government that have resulted in the deaths of dozens of children under the eyes of Child and Family Services, in the embarrassing health care crisis that still exists a decade after the Premier promised to fix it, and in the still-smouldering wreckage of Crocus.

But what is the overall problem with the NDP government?  What is the bottom line here?  Is it a lack of accountability by ministers and the leaders of crown corporations and agencies such as Hydro, CFS and WCB?  Is it the fact that the Premier uses his leftist ideology for window dressing (i.e., anemic program funding without any results) while he frequently flirts not only with the centre but also with the centre-right?

To me, our nine years of NDP government can be described in one word: mediocrity.

It is a wretched taste to be gratified with mediocrity when the excellent lies before us.

– Isaac D’israeli  (Father of Benjamin Disraeli, who was not only the Prime Minister of Britain but was also the namesake of Disraeli Street, which in turn became the namesake of the Freeway which the NDP government likes to ignore.)

Here’s a plaque that I keep on my desk:

Manitoba has so much potential, yet the Premier is content with the status quo. There is no aggressive strategy for the growth of green industry in Manitoba, as wind farms are chased out of the province and our noble Manitoba Hydro subsidizes parking for its employees while handing out “How green are we” calendars to everyone else. The rest of the country is looking to innovate and to experiment, while our government places blanket moratoriums on hog barns and school closures without offering any solutions or embracing any opportunities that are available.

To illustrate the mediocrity of the Doer government, I will post about several major provincial issues and explain why the current government is failing us. Up first will be health care, which I will be spending quite a bit of time on in the coming weeks.

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